How to Harvest and Store Parsnips

Fresh harvested parsnips.

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Harvest parsnips in autumn and winter. Where the ground freezes hard in winter, harvest parsnips before they freeze. Where the ground does not freeze, parsnips can be harvested from the garden as needed. Parsnips overwintered should all be lifted before new growth begins in spring.

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Harvested parsnips
Parsnip harvest

When to harvest parsnips

  • Parsnips are ready for lifting 100 to 120 days from seeding.
  • Harvest parsnips when roots reach full size, about 1½ to 2 inches (3-8 cm) in diameter and 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) long.
  • Parsnip roots are best lifted in late fall after they have been exposed to several moderate freezes.
  • Temperatures below °30F (-1°C) convert root starches to sugars giving parsnips a sweet, nut-like flavor.
  • Parsnips can be left in the garden and harvested through the winter, but after new growth begins in spring, the roots lose flavor and will become lean, limp, tough, and stringy.

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Parsnip plants near harvest
Lift parsnips carefully; damaged and bruised roots do not store well.

How to harvest parsnips

  • Use a digging fork to loosen the soil around parsnip roots.
  • Lift roots carefully; damaged and bruised roots do not store well.
Parsnip harvest
Trim away all but ½ inch of foliage and brush away soil before storing parsnips.

How to store parsnips

  • Trim away all but ½ inch of foliage and brush away soil before storing parsnips.
  • Store parsnips cold and moist, 32°-40°F (0°-4°C) and 95 percent relative humidity. Place roots in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator. A refrigerator provides the cold but also dries the air; placing parsnips in a perforated plastic bag creates a moist environment.
  • Parsnips also can be stored in the garden, root cellar, or garage.
  • Store parsnips in the garden if the soil can be insulated from freezing. Keep the soil at 35° to 40°F (2°-4° C) by putting a 10- to a 12-inch-thick layer of leaves, hay, or straw mulch over the rows; extend the mulch on both sides of each row by another 18 inches or more. This should protect roots even beneath two feet of snow. Dig roots through the winter as needed. If parsnips stay in the ground all winter, harvest them before new top growth starts in spring.
  • If roots can’t be protected from freezing soil, dig them up and store them in a root cellar or basement or in a garage where the temperature is about 32° to 38°F (0°-3°C); store roots in a bucket or wooden box filled with just damp sand or sawdust. Pack the roots so that they are insulated and covered and do not touch one another; some moist air must be able to circulate so don’t completely seal the container.
  • Parsnips will store for 4 to 6 months.
  • Check roots during storage and remove those that begin to deteriorate.
  • Do not store parsnips with apples or pears; those fruits emit natural ethylene gas which causes parsnip roots to become bitter.

Parsnip articles at Harvest to Table:

How to Plant and Grow Parsnip

Parsnips Seed Starting Tips

How to Harvest and Store Parsnips

Five Quick Ways to Cook and Serve Parsnips

Carrot and Parsnip Growing Problems Troubleshooting

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More harvest tips:

Learn when and how to harvest your favorite vegetables for the best flavor and texture. Get storage tips for each crop. Click on the vegetable you are growing below.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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